Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Tournament Poker Essential: Don't Do Anything Stupid

The Countdown to the WSOP continues...

One of the things that is not talked about when discussing tournament poker strategy is patience. I don't mean waiting for big premium starting hands. Or playing tight aggressive like so many authors suggest.

I mean losing your patience when things are not going your way. The flops are not hitting your hand. You are not accumulating chips fast enough to keep up with blind increases. You are spending an hour at the poker table with nothing good happening, and now you are in your second hour with no positive results. What to do?

You are not on tilt when this occurs, but you are losing your patience.

Time's Up

I see players taking unnecessary risks when they start losing their patience. For example, a player gets pocket 6's. He raises and gets re-raised. He has enough chips to play more hands but it's like a buzzer goes off in his head and it's time to take a stand. He calls with the pair, and runs into pocket Aces. As Heidi Klum says on Project Runway, "You are out!"

Ok, I admit it, this happens to me when I play online. It is a bad leak in my game. Especially since I know not to do it, and believe I can outplay and outwit my opponents. But my patience is lacking, and I want to stop playing if I don't get more chips now. It's the: I want it, and I want it now syndrome.

Don't do anything stupid!

If this is what happens to you, my suggestion is that you take a break. Not a long break, but a few minutes away from the table.

If you don't want to leave the table, then maybe you should do the following:

1. Recognize the problem.

2. Figure out why you are feeling this way. Is it something external you can avoid next time you play? Or, is it really just what is happening in the game?

3. If it is the game, try to interrupt your pattern. Do something that links to a positive thought and interrupts your desire to do something stupid.

Daniel Negreanu wrote an article in CardPlayer in 2005 about the advice his new wife gave him. The advice he took to heart was, "Don't do anything stupid!"

While her advice was about not making a reckless play, I think it is also good advice here. Avoid that buzzer going off your head. Don't push all-in knowing you will take the worse of it because you are losing your patience.

There are going to be other opportunities to accumulate chips, so look for them.

"Don't do anything stupid!"

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